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Video transcript

perhaps the most powerful emperor in the history of Rome well certainly one of the most popular and one of the most successful in a military sense was the Emperor Trajan and he built not only the largest Imperial forum in Rome's history that is the biggest most magnificent public space in addition to temples and libraries he also built a vast public bathhouse but he also built the markets this was when is in essence what we would recognize in the modern world are you chopping complex a kind of mall with more than 150 offices and storefronts as Emperor you could choose to build public buildings you could build private dwellings palaces for yourself you could build a combination of both not long before Trajan the Emperor Nero had appropriated vast amounts of land that belonged to the Roman people to build his palace the Domus Aurea so the ampers that came immediately after him for the most part decided to build instead projects for the Roman public the Flavians for example build the amphitheater that we call the Coliseum and Trajan continues that tradition by building this massive public project both the forum and the adjacent market the market is so interesting to me because for so long when I thought of ancient Roman architecture I thought of temples I thought of fora I thought of these large Civic spaces and what I didn't realize was that the Romans were extremely adapt at building dense multi-story structures that is basically apartment buildings office blocks and that's what we have here they had concrete which allowed them to really shape space in a way that you can't do with spaces that are constructed with post and lintel architecture essentially columns and roofs for example here in the markets of Trajan when we enter the central hallway we look up and we see this very high wide space constructed with the use of groin vault made with brick-faced concrete so we're groin vault is simply a barrel vault that has been intercepted by a second barrel vault that is perpendicular to it so in this case we have the main barrel vault of the hallway which is quite long intersected by additional barrel vaults at right-angles and so you get this kind of X shaped archway this was done by Trajan's chief architect Apollodorus of Damascus an amazing engineer and architect who also built bridges and other military structures for Trajan Apollodorus of Damascus also built on either side of this groin vaulted hallway offices that are supported by barrel vaults and linked to the main hallway by buttresses what I find so phenomenal about this space is the amount of light that is LED in and this is because the Romans had become so adept at using concrete the ability to give up weight-bearing wall for apertures for windows to let light in both in the vaulting and in the walls speaks to the extraordinary level of confidence of the ancient Romans under Trajan and soon after this under the Emperor Hadrian the Romans will build one of the most beautiful surviving monuments today and that is the pantheon an enormous uninterrupted domed space created with use of concrete so here in the center of Rome we have intact one of the most complex urban spaces dating from ancient Rome it is a spectacular display of Roman engineering and gives us a real window into what Roman life must have been like the Romans had a nickname for Trajan and that was Optimus princeps and that means best leader and standing here overlooking Trajan's forum and standing in the market that he commissioned we can understand why they would call him that you